Everyone wants to be the best player on the court. It’s only human to want to be better than your opponents and help your team win. However, you can’t simply will yourself to sink baskets and dominate defensively. (Check out these basketball defense drills.) You need to practice, train and have the right mindset to achieve your goals. Below are nine things you can do to improve as a basketball player.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
There is no magic to getting better—it takes time and repetitions. The “10,000-Hour Rule,” made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers: The Secret to Success, states that it takes at least 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. Genetics and complexity can accelerate or impair the process. For example, not everyone can dunk, but jumping rope doesn’t take 10,000 hours to master.
2. Quality Repetitions
The quality of your work is more important than the quantity. This doesn’t mean you should put in less time; it means you will benefit more from a few high-quality repetitions than from a lot of sloppy ones. High quality means you execute at game speed, focus on technique and maintain a high level of energy, instead of going through the motions or rushing to finish. For example, perform a shooting drill instead of shooting around. Low-quality reps can actually hurt your game by reinforcing poor form. They are simply a waste of time.
3. Focus on the Little Things
Many players seem unconcerned about the little things—like form and footwork—but they can make a big difference in your game. You have to make sure you have a solid foundation, or else the little things will hurt you down the line. Alan Stein, owner of Stronger Team, says, “The work you put in is a brick, and you build your building brick by brick.”
Always be disciplined. Give 100% effort during exercises and skills practice. Don’t slack off when you’re tired, and never miss a workout. If you are going to do something, don’t do it halfway.
5. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Shooting correctly is not a naturally comfortable movement. (Learn proper shooting technique.) Playing as low as you should defensively and offensively is not comfortable. However, as you push yourself and improve at these things, they will get easier and you will get better.
6. Bring Your Own Intensity
Players tend to be externally motivated and need a push to practice with intensity. No matter what the drill is, you can bring your own intensity. For example, you can push yourself to get more repetitions or execute better without the need of a coach. Always be focused and try your hardest, even if the drill seems boring or slow.
7. Refuse to Settle
You need to judge your work based on what you are able to do. If you can finish a Down and Back in eight seconds, don’t settle for ten seconds, even if that is the time limit or it’s enough to finish first.
8. Don’t Cheat Yourself
At Thunder Sports Institute, players don’t slow down until they pass the finish line; and they don’t stop for another 10 to 15 feet beyond that point. When touching a line before turning around, make sure the line is under the center of your body. You are not working to get through the drill. You are working to get better.
9. Understand the Cost
The better you want to be, the more work you need to put in. Improving your game doesn’t come overnight. It takes the same amount of work to maintain the level you have achieved, but even more to make it to the next level. Dedication pays off, but you have to be willing to make sacrifices to achieve your goals.